Running took the stage to little fanfare, quietly picking up their instruments. That was the last bit of quiet for the night. A kind of electronic banshee's howl blasted out of the speakers and the band was off. The sound was part Black Flag, part Parts & Labor, with punchy vocals slammed down with an Albini swagger. What surprised me most about the band after a few songs was just how many solid, catchy riffs were buried beneath the swirled screeches. All but one song fell under two minutes in length, though it may have been hard to tell seeing as Running never stopped thrashing until the set was over. I don't know if they had someplace else to be, if they were worried there might not be applause or if they just didn't care, but it worked. The whole set rang in at around twelve minutes. If they had laid down a bet I'll assume they won.
Not many bands would be eager to follow that kind of assault, but Tinsel Teeth are the perfect kind of group to go for it. The four-piece from Providence play a special kind of hell-infused metal and sport a lineup that likely match your description of "people I have no desire to meet in a dark alley." The band's female lead singer looks, at first glance, like a short and sweet little Jersey girl. That is, until you notice the strap-on dildo, clusters of bruises and streaks of blood. Her drummer and guitar player come off as a couple of stocky, tattooed henchman pulled out of some Samoan snuff film. And then there's the drummer. He's a thinner, kind of nondescript guy, which is even more terrifying. What, you wonder, has gone so wrong inside this man's head that this is the company he keeps?
The band sounds like what you'd expect: a bucket of maggots and a handful of old B-horror flicks tossed into a meat grinder and run through about 17 layers of distortion. Every now and then a clean hook peaks up from the rabble, only to be choked and tossed aside by the combination of crackling, earthquake bass-lines and the lead singer's guttural yawp. It's her presence that defines Tinsel Teeth live. Parts Wendy O. Williams and parts Iggy Pop, she slams wildly through the audience, moshing and groping her way through each number. Whereas Tinsel Teeth's record, Trash as the Trophy, requires one to be in a specific mindset in order to digest it, their live performances simply abduct and sodomize the listener- mostly in a good way.
Check out more show reviews:
Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Laughing Eye Weeping Eye at the Empty Bottle
Javelin, White Mystery and more at Do-Division Fest
Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Eleventh Dream Day at Pritzker Pavilion
Elvis Costello at the Chicago Theatre
Bare Mutants, Tiger Bones at the Empty Bottle